Archive for June, 2011

Industry? You Carebear!

Posted in Uncategorized on June 30, 2011 by khalia

While the Incarna/NeX/MT event rages, I’ve been occupied with a new ISK generator for me, which involves moon goo production. One of the reasons I haven’t departed from the game, stage left, is that I accepted a large sum of ISK from investors for this project.

It’s been wildly successful. So much that I now have FIFTEEN pos towers doing production for me. Managing the fueling and reactions has become a major time sink and tracking headache. I have my own custom spreadsheet apps for this, but they are not 100% to what I want.

So I say to the industrialists among you: Is there a good API-driven tool for collecting POS tower information? What good reaction tools exist? What other tricks and tips do you have?

A lead that makes my life significantly easier (my call on that) will get some sort of reward from me. And since Paul gave me all his stuff, I can promise it will be a nice reward. 😀

Pay2Win Scandal – Signs of Life

Posted in Uncategorized on June 26, 2011 by paul

From the Dev Blog:

The tone and demeanor of my blog on Friday did not correctly portray my emotions towards the community and player base at large. I love and respect EVE and its community on a level that’s hard to really do justice in words. However I let my frustration take charge of me, fueled by emotions that had built up due to a breach of trust we at CCP have been experiencing over the past few days. I know that sounds ironic considering those are the exact same feelings you have been having towards CCP.

For that I am sorry.

Having cooled off a bit and taken a solemn look at the situation, I see it’s clear we need to strengthen the deep mutual trust and respect that’s been so unique and descriptive of our relationship. There are certain questions you want answered and there isn’t room for more error in our communication on those topics or our perception of the root causes.

Therefore we have asked the CSM to join us in Iceland for an extraordinary meeting June 30th and July 1st to discuss the events of past week, to help us define and address the real underlying concerns, and to assist us in defining and iterating on our virtual goods strategy.

The result of this meeting should be mutual agreement of how virtual goods and services will evolve in EVE. Other issues may be brought up and we urge you to contact the CSM with your comments and concerns so that they may be addressed at this session.

However, just to prove the point of the Fearless newsletter and give you a further understanding of what it is then there are no and never have been plans to sell “gold ammo” for Aurum. In Fearless people are arguing a point, which doesn’t even have to be their view, they are debating an issue. This is another example of how information out of context is no information at all.

Due to the volatility of the topic we want to refrain from any further comments on this matter until after meeting with the CSM.

Thank you for your patience,

Arnar Hrafn Gylfason

Senior Producer of EVE Online

Emphasis mine. Note that no promise was made that Pay2Win would not be considered in the future.

I’ve already quit. My clients and helper programs are all deleted. Want to win me back? Give an unequivocal written pledge to never offer for real money any in-game advantage or ex nihilo non-vanity item. When possible, vanity items should be transferable and destructible.

That’s it. That’s my only demand. I don’t care how much space-barbie jeans cost, or whether you do anything with Incarna or not. Those things aren’t important to me or can be forgiven. Answer the question of Pay2Win once and for all.

Mittens made his response to the latest Dev Blog on the forums:

This blog is a promising but much-delayed first step. The events of the past few days have left me feeling skeptical of the entire situation, since the May Summit itself went peachy, yet then these issues with the NeX prices cropped up, undiscussed, out of nowhere – not to mention the Hilmar mail, Greed is Good, et cetera.

Mark me down on the ‘actions not words’ end of the scale – In Reykjavik, I’m going to want to see exactly how the NeX prices were decided upon, how they were drafted, and which suits where were behind this nonsense – and who chose to not mention this to the CSM. Perhaps most important is understanding the degree of financial motivation behind this, and why it came from CCP like a bolt from the blue, and thus how likely similar bolts from the blue might be in the future.

I don’t have much more to say beyond what I’ve already said on Eve Radio and in my CEO Update, which is crossposted on Kugu and Failheap.

We’ll see how Reykjavik goes.

I’ve always liked Mittens, and I admire all of the CSM more than ever for being willing to go out of the country on short notice for a video game. It’s my belief that the future of the game depends on CCP’s position on Pay2Win. Keep Eve hard.

My first attempt at meme work. What do you think?

Until we hear something, I’ll continue with Perpetuum. It’s not bad!

Potential Eve Alternative: Perpetuum?

Posted in Uncategorized on June 25, 2011 by paul

Watch the video below and see if you don’t find similarities to Eve Online.

I created an account and created the in-game channel “Eve” for Eve refugees. Come join us.

http://www.perpetuum-online.com/

Hey CCP Hilmar: You said you would judge us on our actions rather than our words. How are we doing so far? Hope those 52 Monocles were worth it.

CCP’s Internal Memo

Posted in Uncategorized on June 24, 2011 by paul

Since CCP has been deleting threads on the Eve-O forums about it:

— Email Starts—-

Date: Thu, 23 Jun 2011 18:16:54 -0400
To: riverini@gmail.com
Subject: ccp ceo global msg sent today
From: evewatch@hush.com
Content-Transfer-Encoding: 7bit
Content-Type: text/plain; charset=”UTF-8″
Message-Id: <20110623221654.CF1E76F438@smtp.hushmail.com>

sent by hilmar to ccp global list-

(strt)

We live in interesting times; in fact CCP is the kind of company that if things get repetitive we instinctively crank it up a notch. That, we certainly have done this week. First of we have Incarna, an amazing technological and artistic achievement. A vision from years ago realized to a point that no one could have imaged but a few months ago. It rolls out without a hitch, is in some cases faster than what we had before, this is the pinnacle of professional achievement. For all the noise in the channel we should all stand proud, years from now this is what people will remember.

But we have done more, not only have we redefined the production quality one can apply to virtual worlds with the beautiful Incarna but we have also defined what it really means to make virtual reality more meaningful than real life when it comes to launching our new virtual goods currency, Aurum.

Naturally, we have caught the attention of the world. Only a few weeks ago we revealed more information about DUST 514 and now we have done it again by committing to our core purpose as a company by redefining assumptions. After 40 hours we have already sold 52 monocles, generating more revenue than any of the other items in the store.

This we have done after months of research by a group of highly competent professionals, soliciting input and perspective from thought leaders and experts in and around our industry. We have communicated our intention here internally in very wide circles through the Virtual Economy Summit
presentation at the GSM, our Fearless newsletter, sprint reviews, email lists and multiple other channels. This should not come as a surprise to anyone.

Currently we are seeing _very predictable feedback_ on what we are doing. Having the perspective of having done this for a decade, I can tell you that this is one of the moments where we look at what our players do and less of what they say. Innovation takes time to set in and the predictable reaction is always to resist change.

We went out with a decisive strategy on pricing and we will stay the course and not flip flop around or knee jerk react to the predictable. That is not saying nothing will change, on the contrary, in fact we know that success in this space is through learning and adapting to _what is actually happening_ and new knowledge gained in addition to what we knew before and expected.

All that said, I couldn’t be prouder of what we have accomplished as a company, changing the world is hard and we are doing it as so many times before! Stay the course, we have done this many times before.

(end)

Ban my accounts if you want, CCP. I’ve already given my assets away.

(In case that doesn’t do it, I’d like to remind you that you can DIAF, too. Free Helicity.)

“Greed is Good” Pay2Win Scandal Update

Posted in Uncategorized on June 23, 2011 by paul

After more than 24 hours of silence and 70+ pages of rage in the threadnaught related to CCP’s goal to deliver Pay2Win microtransactions, CCP Pann has made a post in General Discussion asking that we bear with CCP while it figures out WTF it’s gonna do.

Hi, everyone

Some of you who have been around for a while may remember me. I was the original community manager for EVE. These days, I oversee the PR and Community teams. While most of what I do happens behind the curtains, I am still aware of what’s going on front and center. I would be lying if I said that what’s happening now didn’t make me sad, but I’m not here to ask for your sympathy. To be perfectly honest, I’m here to buy time while we try to sort things out. No sense in lying about it so I’ll call a spade a spade.

It’s clear that many of you are angry . There’s a lot happening, things are changing quickly and we haven’t been as forthcoming as you were used to in the past. I’m willing to step out front and take a lot of heat for that since I was the one who made the decision to hold off on responding for a while to see if things cooled down once the new wore off.

I was wrong to do that and I apologize. We should have said something much sooner. We should have done more to address your concerns and be forthcoming, even if we weren’t going to be able to immediately give you all of the answers you were looking for or the answer your questions in ways that will instantly turn those frowns upside down. To be even more candid, I cannot answer all of your questions, either, but I am working with the people who can to start getting those answers for you. Again, I know we’re doing this past the expiration date of your patience but I hope you’ll bear with me.

I know that, with very few exceptions, most of you don’t know me from Adam. I haven’t earned your trust or respect; therefore I have no right to ask anything of you – but I am going to try, anyway. Can I please count on at least some of you to help bring the pitchforks and torches down a few notches?

Like I said, I won’t be able to answer all of your questions tonight, but I promise we’ll start getting some info out tomorrow. As I see it, the chief complaint is regarding the high cost of goods in the Nobel Market. Second, many people are unhappy about the Captain’s Quarters. Third, there are some performance issues with Incarna. I would appreciate it if you would confirm my observations or tell me what I’m missing, but I do ask that you do it in a productive way. I will remove posts without prejudice if they are counterproductive to the conversation I hope to have with you.

If you’ve read this much, thanks for staying with me. If you have something to say, I’d like very much to hear it.

Humbly yours,
~P~

Allow me to re-quote the most important part of the post:

As I see it, the chief complaint is regarding the high cost of goods in the Nobel Market. Second, many people are unhappy about the Captain’s Quarters. Third, there are some performance issues with Incarna.

This is WRONG, and the comments so far on the thread reflect that wrongness.

If the $60 monocles, letdown of the FAMC (Forever Alone Minmatar Closet), performance issues, and game-breaking bugs were all that the community was raging about, do you think that I’d be threatening to leave the game I love? The game that I currently know of no replacement for? Frankly, I wouldn’t have given the patch a second thought if that were the case. “Oh, another crappy expansion release.” I’d say. “It’s hardly the first. They’ll fix it up soon.”

This is about the promise that you made to us that real-money transactions would be for vanity items ONLY. You started breaking this promise at some point since then, and may have been lying to us from the beginning.

And now you make a post saying you’ll address our concerns, and completely ignore the one item that will cause the greatest exodus from your subscriber base. Forgive us the pitchforks, but we’re feeling used and betrayed here.

Where’s the butterfly effect in this? What’s the point of being in a game where the individual’s actions matter, if those actions can be counterbalanced by someone willing to open their wallet and have you create something out of thin air?

As for what can be done to restore our trust? I can’t speak for everyone, but for me nothing less than a top-down shakedown of your organization will do for me. I’ll need a written pledge not to sully the game with Pay2Win MT, and a reiteration of the earlier pledge to introduce MT for vanity items only.

This probably is too much to ask, as it appears that a large part of your business plan now revolves around this suicidal attempt to squeeze more cash out of your subscriber base in exchange for in-game advantages. What I expect you’ll do is issue a half-assed “we’re sorry you’re upset, we promise we’ll be careful” non-apology apology. No personnel changes will take place, and the only lesson you’ll have learned is that your betrayal of your customers should be more carefully concealed until you decide that you don’t need us anymore.

Frankly, I’ve been depressed since this came to light. Eve was and is the greatest multiplayer game ever produced. There is no place to seek refuge for players who want a true sandbox MMO once you go down this path. I am sure that a large portion of the folks claiming that they will terminate their accounts over this will be unable to resist the draw and come crawling back.

I’m not one of them. Sod the content-poor walking in stations, and the dreadnaught-priced monocles, and the FAMC. They’re either fixable or ignorable.

If you do not dramatically reverse course on Pay2Win, I will walk away from this game. I’ll be grieving as I do so, but I will walk away.

Incarna News Roundup

Posted in Uncategorized on June 23, 2011 by khalia

It’s been only two days since Incarna went live, but a lot has happened. Here’s a summary of what’s been going on.

Vanity Item Prices Spark Outrage

The Noble Exchange Store features six new cosmetic upgrades for characters. The price on these ranges from 1,000 to 12,000 Aurum for the ‘Monocle’. With Aurum being converted from PLEX at a 1:3500 ratio, these items cost 0.3 to 3.4 PLEX. This coverts to 120m to 1.36b; or $10 to $70.

Player outrage against these prices are strong, pointing out that these items cost as much as a faction battleship or a dreadnaught with no actual in-game advantage. Player perception leading up to the availability of these goods was based on CCP describing them as microtransactions. With expensive items costing as much as several months of account time, it is difficult to call these ‘micro’transactions. Player sentiment is that this these prices represent a cash-grab by CCP. CCP has not commented on this issue yet.

CEOs Protest Vanity Items By Banning Use

Starting with Alice Celadon of Pandemic Legion, CEOs of corporations are protesting the prices of vanity items by removing players who have purchased these items from their corporations and refusing to accept new applicants who have purchased vanity items. The impact of this on vanity item sales remains unknown.

Leaked CCP Memo Describes Future Pay-For-Items Model

Download here, password: ‘dominixevenews24’.

First reported by Evenews24, this internal CCP memo, titled ‘Greed is Good?’ extensively covers what may be the future of the virtual goods market in EVE.

This document was initially confirmed to be authentic by CSM member Myxnee. At this time of writing, theFailheap Challenge site discussing the document was offline.

Page 1 of the document compares EVE players to golfers, and suggests that EVE players may enjoy spending more money to enhance their game experience. “[Eve players] might even go as far as buying a $500 leather jacket that matches the one their avatar is wearing. And all of these expenditures will actually improve their experience of the game and make them feel better about it and about themselves.”

Page 2 of the document contains opinion pieces by two CCP employees about virtual good sales. Kristoffer Touborg writes in favor of virtual good sales, and includes a proposed virtual good: “Right now, you can store 50 personal fittings on our servers. … Why not be able to add more storage space for a small amount of money?”. John Turbefield writes against virtual good sales, noting that other games with virtual good sales, such a Lord of the Rings Online, do not charge a subscription fee: “It is worth pointing out though that they made almost everything microtransaction based and at the same time removed subscription fees. … Making our customers feel like they are being ‘double billed’ to be able to play on the same level is just a step too far.’

Page 3 contains an article by Scott Holden discussing how virtual good sales would be implemented, along with examples. Items discussed include: “‘nano-paints’ that allow one to customize ships”; “new items, ammunition, ships”; “faction standings”. One interesting note is that in sharp contrast to the high prices of current items, Holden suggests that, “No pair of pants, no matter how cool, should cost the same as a new Maserati.”

Page 4 is written my Eino Joas and covers virtual goods sales in DUST514. The article suggests spectator viewing of DUST514 games will cost money: “To offset the cost of ‘freeloading spectators’, DUST will have a nominal cover charge”. Virtual goods in DUST514 are also planned to degrade over time and require repurchase: “In the real world, light bulbs are engineered to last for a thousand hours and fashion cycles get people to buy new stuff season after season. If we are in this for the long run, we have to be thinking in similar terms regarding virtual goods.”

Page 5 covers World of Darkness; I will not go over it here.

Player reaction to this memo has been strongly negative, with suggestions that CCP is ‘selling out’ and breaking game play balance by offering performance-enhancing items for cash. Most comments suggest that players do not have issues with non-functional vanity items at reasonable prices, but are opposed to being able to buy performance advantages with real cash.

Noteable Eve Players Cancel Subscriptions

Several well-known Eve players have canceled their subscriptions, including Paul Clavet and Ecliptic Rift. The Failheap Challenge website contained a thread where several other noteables, including Mxynee and Helicity had canceled their accounts, but that site is now offline.

Removal of Classic ‘Station Spinning’ Causes Protests

While in station, players in Incarna my elect to use the new Captain’s Quarters, or disable it; disabling it provides a static picture of the interior. This has angered many players, who are requesting that the classic view of one’s spaceship in the hangar be returned.

Captain’s Quarters Causes Graphic Cards To Overheat

Numerous reports of graphic cards overheating while CQ was being used were reported on the EVE Online forums. CCP has responded to the issue by issuing a request for details. Players also report very poor performance in CQ even with modern hardware.

Pirate Faction Implants Broken

Players reported that pirate faction implants would disappear after Incarna, or only appear intermittently. A fix for this was included in downtime for June 23rd.

Damage Bonus Modules Stop Working

Players reported that damage-enhancing modules such as heatsinks, gyrostabilizers, and ballistic control units were no longer functioning; that is, they no longer provided any bonus. CCP has not commented on this issue.

If you have any additions or corrections, feel free to post a reply.

End of Eve?

Posted in Uncategorized on June 22, 2011 by paul

It might be. At least for me.

Leaked newsletter reveals that CCP intends to offer cash-for-performance advantage.

Get in there and have a look. Several folks have mirrored the leaked file. I had my hopes up that it was a fake intended to troll the bittervets, but Mynxee seems to believe it’s for realz. If there’s anyone I trust in this game, it’s Mynxee.

CCP Soundwave stated on his Twitter feed that he’s watching the thread, and yet nobody from CCP has posted on any forum thread in hours.

I guess now I see why TeaDaze left just after joining the CSM. It must have been agony for the CSM delegates to sit on this so long while gagged by a NDA.

I just don’t know, at this point. It appears that CCP is taking for granted the revenue stream coming from Eve enabling them to work on other projects. Even if they say “OK OK OK, this isn’t our official position and we’re not going to do it” then I’m just not sure I can trust them anymore. The we-must-monetize-performance attitude takes away exactly the reason I played Eve. We’ve gotten a glimpse into CCP’s new corporate culture, and no matter how THIS incident turns out, it’s just a matter of time.

I’ve cancelled all my recurring subscriptions. If this isn’t all revealed to be a gigantic hoax, I’ll be donating all my assets to the next Plex-for-Good charity event, and uninstalling the game. It’s their game and they can run it how they want, but I’m not obligated to play it.

CapVerfex and Zylien Luzifer Give CNRs, Deadspace Loot, and 500M to Paul Clavet

Posted in Combat, E-honor, Ninja Salvaging on June 22, 2011 by paul

So, it had been too long. RL concerns have been keeping me from spending much time plying my ninja trade. Today, however, I was home with a sinus infection, high on medication, and bored, so I figured I’d see if my inactivity had lowered my profile enough that carebears would shoot at me. I wasn’t disappointed!

I launched probes and my first hit was a pair of CNRs in a Worlds Collide mission. Now, I’ve been watching as other ninjas did horrible things to mission runners with “salvaging” combat frigates, so a few weeks ago I traded JerkTengu in for some assault frigs, faction frigs, and a Hurricane. Also making a return was the Sacrilege, albeit now T2-fit instead of faction pimped. I grabbed my bait Worm and warped into the mission. As soon as I grabbed some worthless piece of loot, both CNRs locked onto my frigate and fired. I pointed the older of the two players, CapVerfex, and started killing drones, but two opponents’ worth of drones was just too much, and I warped out of the mission in low armor.

As I left, I watched my speed-fit orca alt arrive at the front room. I had it begin approaching the gate to the Guristas room, where my victims were still pewing rats. I warped my Worm back into the mission, caught up with the Orca, and swapped to the Sacrilege. Despite having a Noctis alt in the entrance, neither pilot noticed me until I landed on top of them.

I opened a convo with CapVerfex:

Paul Clavet > 500M or your ship dies
Paul Clavet > You will not get another chance for this
CapVerfex > hmm you sure that i dont pop if i give you the money??^^
Paul Clavet > I do this for a living
Paul Clavet > if I dishonor ransoms, I don’t get more
CapVerfex > kk

CapVerfex > stop shoot
Paul Clavet > 30 seconds to pay
CapVerfex > i send -_-
Paul Clavet > 15 seconds

*CapVerfex pays 500,000,000.00 ISK*

CapVerfex > payed
Paul Clavet > now 500 more
CapVerfex > im blank -_-
Paul Clavet > eject from the other CNR
CapVerfex > damn it
Paul Clavet > last chance
CapVerfex > i dont have the money -_-
CapVerfex > stop it and i can ask the other pilot
Paul Clavet > what other ships do you have?
CapVerfex > lol.. im misson runner and this is my only one …
CapVerfex > -_-

I tried for a second ransom the way that many of my younger Ninja brethren do, but found it to be less satisfying than the SUDDENLY BETRAYAL that I had made popular.

As I burned through CapVerfex’s structure, I was amazed to find that Zylien Luzifer wasn’t warping away. There’s no reason he should have let this happen:

(Pop!)

Sigh. Zylien went down even easier.

CapVerfex’s CNR – Including a Caldari Navy Ballistic Control Unit, and a Gist X-Type XL Booster.

Zylien Luzifer’s CNR

I got video of this kill, but I was running four clients, so the framerate was terrible. Also, with some new changes and bugs being introduced since the last time I did this sort of thing, my rustiness from not having done it so long, and the effects of my illness and medication on me, my performance was definitely sub-par. I will try to get good video next time!

Review: Incarna. Also: Where’s Paul?

Posted in Come On!, Site News, When RL Invades on June 21, 2011 by paul

Welp, at least they didn’t break anything that mattered this time. Actually, they did break a lot of things in addition to the fail extra content. Sigh. 🙁

I knew that they could make a relatively pretty walking-in-stations game, but I was holding out to see if they actually had some applications for it. As in, something that’s as fun or more fun as a biped than as a pod.

I rolled a new pilot to see if Incarna made the New Player Experience more tolerable. The New Player Experience asked me to open the agent window. There weren’t any obvious clues about where to find that window. I figured after a few minutes that it probably wanted me to open my agents tab in People and Places. It didn’t. I eventually found the window it wanted me to open. It told me to get into a conversation with an agent before I could continue. The problem was that the only agent in station was a storyline agent, and he didn’t want to talk to me.

Keep in mind that this was in a Pator Tech School station, where one would expect to find what one needs to get started on the tutorials. The tutorial didn’t tell me that I needed to change stations, much less tell me how to do that. Since I, the newbie, was on foot instead of in a ship, I didn’t know that I could very easily and quickly fly to another station and continue the tutorial. Instead of making the tutorial easier to swallow for players by taking them out of the spaceship, CCP made it HARDER by making them feel trapped and looking for the next step in the FAMC (Forever Alone Minmatar Closet).

I mean, if Incarna 1.0 is a tech demo for some killer new gameplay paradigm you’ve got waiting for finishing touches, then wouldn’t it make sense to tell us what it is? Because I’m not sure how we’re supposed to be impressed with this.

I’m not mad at you, CCP. I’m not quitting. I’m just sad. I hope that I’m wrong about where this is headed, which is to yet another major feature (more major than any other expansion in CCP history) that is hailed as the next big thing, but eventually sits unused by players while major problems that cause grief for all subscribers go unfixed. Please prove me wrong.

Where’s Paul?

Some of you have it figured out, but I’ll let the rest in on a little secret. When I first started this blog, I was a church office manager. Then I was a city cop for a couple of years. Now I’ve hung up my badge (but not my gun! So don’t try to find me.) and purchased a used video/board game store. Until that business stabilizes, I will continue to be scarce.

Macro Miners and Some Ideas

Posted in Developers! Developers! Developers!, The More You Know on June 18, 2011 by khalia

If you haven’t already, go have a listen to the most recent Fly Reckless, where our very own Paul is a featured guest. It’s pretty funny (shout out to drunk Angus!), but they do cover some serious topics, including macro miners.

As mentioned in the podcast, Eve’s in-house economist, Dr. Eyjólfur “Eyjo” Guðmundsson (good luck pronouncing that), recently made a statement that banning all macro miners would crash the EVE economy. I’d like to be able to provide the source for this, but I couldn’t find it on the Google. Any reader who wants to take up this challenge will get some sort of bonus from me.

The idea of a “market crash” is that without the large supply of minerals supplied by macro miners, prices on everything would rise sharply. This would cause players to leave the game, is the theory, because they wouldn’t be able to buy things. I’m not sure this is actually the result. As supply drops, demand rises, driving costs of minerals up – and suddenly mining becomes more profitable. More players move into mining, and the prices stabilize. They just never return to the same prices as possible by large number of botters running 23/7.

I don’t think this is a bad thing. Mining is the redheaded stepchild of careers in EVE. Nothing is more boring than mining. It currently returns barely enough ISK to self-support an account by buying PLEX. A solid L4 missioner can pull in 50m or more an hour once they get some experience. Boosting the value of mining is to be considered a good thing, even if causes short-term havoc on the market. It also acts to drive up costs of everything – which in my mind is good. Make losing that T2 ship more painful. Better game play, more stress, more emotional investment.

My opinion on macro mining is slightly different than most. I do not think all macroers can ever be detected and eliminated. In order to determine the difference between a bot and a real person, you need a real person; computer’s can’t do it. The next smarter bot will just break the existing computer solution. Killing bots doesn’t scale well – it takes too many people and man hours.

The better solution is to make macro mining unprofitable – in real life. We know that macros are used to generate ISK which is then sold in RMT (real money transactions) to make real cash. If we can drop the value returned by macros below the point where it’s worthwhile for people to run the bots (and pay PLEX for accounts) then they’ll stop doing this and start doing something else.

My proposed solution has two components: It uses a method that penalizes macros more than regular players, and doesn’t break immersion. A key attribute of macros is that they can run non-stop; a lot of macros will run for 23 hours a day, 7 days a week. Slightly more clever ones will run for 18 hours and then take 6 hours off, and start again. At the same time, we know that very, very few real players actually mine non-stop for these volumes of time. They might do it once in a while, but for a month on end? No way. (If you do, I am so so sorry for you. Seriously.) We can’t just say anyone mining more than 18 hours a day is a bot, because we may actually catch a person actually doing this. The more hours you accumulate mining per month, however, the more likely you look like a bot.

We start by adding a new counter to every account (not just player, to prevent player switching on an account), and this is amount of time mining laser has been activated in the past 30 days. This value is incremented while the player has any mining laser active (but only once, no matter how many lasers active), which won’t be hard to program. This gives us an idea of how much this account mines.

Let’s take an average player miner, and say he mines for 2 to 4 hours a day, five days a week. Over a month this gives us 40 to 80 hours a month (or less, as mining lasers aren’t always active, but you get the idea). These guys shouldn’t get any penalty. Now go up to the really hardcore player miners, a very small bunch. Say they mine for 6 to 8 hours a day, 6 days a week. That’s 144 to 192 hours a month. Some of these guys might actually be bots, so we want to penalize them, but not much. Again, this is going to be a very small group. Who do you know that mines 8 hours a day 6 days a week? Above 192 hours a month we become increasingly sure that the account is a bot. A full-on, 23/7 account is 690 hours a month, and we’re 100% these guys are bots. They are harshly penalized.

Our penalty for being a botter – or at least seeming like one – will not be to outright ban, but to cut into the return. If you’re out mining for a really long time, it’s kind of reasonable that you might attract attention, of the bad type. So here’s what we do: Every hour, each miner has a certain percentage chance, increasing with number of hours mined, that dangerous pirates will spawn and attack. Our pirates will be four cruiser or battlecruiser class ships, and they all warp scramble. Furthermore, they scram as rapidly as CONCORD does. We do not want our botters to be aligned and just warp off when these guys spawn. These spawns have low bounty value and low or no drops, to prevent farming. If you’re a real player who plays an insane amount, bring a defense ship or corpmate. You should be able to afford it.

What percentages are we talking about? Up to 144 hours/month, 0%. From 144 to 200 hours/month, very slowly rising, say max of 5% at 200. The percentage then sharply rises after 200, hitting 100% around 300. 300 hours a month means this account is mining 10 hours a day, every single day of a month, without stop.

FAQ

Q: Doesn’t this unfairly impact people who mine all the time?
A: If you mine 7 hours a day, every single day, without rest, it might. This is a tiny, tiny, tiny number of people. And a lot of bots.

Q: Won’t bots just limit themselves to mining only enough not to trigger the spawn?
A: If they do, that’s great. They’ve just limited their own income, putting them on the same level as regular human miners. They may stop entirely because the value isn’t worth it.

Q: Won’t macros start using cheap ships?
A: If they do, so much the better. It will again cap some of their income.

Q: Won’t macros start running missions?
A: I haven’t seen a successful mission macro yet; the complexity is large. It won’t be such a problem, as the effect on the mineral market from mining is smaller.

What do you say, readers?